Did you know that there were missionaries who aided Korea’s democratic revolution? I went to the library today and found an interesting book entitled More Than Witnesses: How a Small Group of Missionaries Aided Korea’s Democratic Revolution (Seoul: Korea Democracy Foundation, 2006).
This book is a collection of the witnesses of missionaries who got involved in Korea’s democratic revolution. They came from the United States, Canada, Australia, and Germany. They voluntarily walked the path of suffering in the darkest days of Korea’s political history in the 1970s and 1980s. The current president of Korea Democracy Foundation, Father Ham Sei Ung, designates them as “Good Samaritans.”
They are a small minority of missionaries those who were struggling for justice, while the majority of missionaries remained silent. They agreed to get together to share news about what was happening to their Korean colleagues, students, and neighbors on Monday nights. This is how the “Monday Night Group” was born.
As a missionary-journalist and a member of the Monday Night Group, Jim Stentzel edited this book, and all contributors of the book were also the members of the group.
Stentzel identifies the small group of missionaries with the small minority within the Korean Christian community:
One of the interesting things about the democratic revolution that occurred slowly in south Korea over the last three decades of the 20th century is that the Korean Christians who played such central roles in the revolution were a small minority within the Korean Christian community, which at that time comprised a minority of the south Korean people. Why is this worth noting? Because self-proclaimed ‘Christian majorities’- in south Korea today as well as in the United States- lay moral claim to levers o conservative state power. As a small minority within a minority Christian in the 1970s, the Korean Christian patriots could never have been accused of such arrogance. Any secret ambition to impose a religious or moral agenda would have been laughable. The Korean Christian patriots were more the conscience of the nation than a power base. They sought not power themselves but the empowerment of others, especially the exploited and oppressed (pp. 29-30).
This book provides a new aspect on missionaries to Korea. They were sent to Korea to transform Korean, but they were transformed. They were also introduced to some of the dark side of capitalism. They saw God’s handiwork to the Korean Christians who moved to the forefront of the country’s struggle for democracy and human rights.
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